Howís Warped Tour been so far?
Warped Tourís been great. Weíve only been out for a few days. So we havenít formed the calluses that many of the other bands have. But we have a few years on the Warped Tour so we get back in the saddle pretty quickly. Itís been nice and hot.
I saw you guys play in Oklahoma City a few weeks ago and I was wondering whereís Rabbit [Ryland Steen]?
He is on tour with the television dynamo known as Kris Allen. And. uh, heís been off and on playing gigs with them for the last year, year and a half. They finally like wanted to do a tour. He went off and did a tour with them and left us in the capable hands of a gentlemen named Camear. Who in no at all learned all the drum parts and was willing to fill in with us brigands. But he sends his regards. Ryland sends his regards because heís out there lip synching with a backing track and stuff. So he really misses playing real drums.
How did Ryland end up getting that gig?
I donít know. Heís one of those guys thatís always got his ear to the ground in the sort of studio scene in Los Angeles. He plays on a lot of peoples demo records. A lot of bands they get signed to a record label and they get a producer and everything and they go in and make their record. They record and send the band home. The producer calls Ryland and says, ďCan you do redo these drum parts? These kids suck.Ē Heís one of the drum doctors in the Hollywood scene out there. These kids plan on selling records and think theyíre really playing those drums. But heís ours. Donít worry. Heís never leaving.
How did you guys pick what songs were going to be on the ďBest OfĒ record?
We kind of just rerecorded everything. Weíve been working on it for two years in between tours when we get home. The process of building a studio and practice space in this warehouse that we have. So itís sort of been this project that was both for the studio and to reclaim a lot of the recordings that we have. I mean we own the rights to the songs, obviously. We wrote them. But over the years theyíve been sort of shuffled around from record label to record label. We were like, ďWe should have our own versions of the songs. Especially now that weíre in our thirties and can play them better when we recorded when we eighteen-years-old or something. Letís get good versions.Ē I think Aaron went on the selection process probably based on set list of what people like to here. Their not changed too much, really. We didnít change the arrangements. We kind of cleaned it up a bit. When we first started off we were really trying hard to show that we were good musicians. So we would write all these complicated parts that may or may not serve the song. But ultimately itís the same music. Itís just played a little bit better. We use to have guys in the band that we were like, ďHe canít really play but heís hilarious.Ē And now itís a little bit different priority.
How did you guys pick which songs you were going to play acoustically for the record?
Thatís one of those Aaron things where he lost sleep over it for a few weeks and finally settled on the ones he chose. Heís kind of a stickler for that kind of stuff. Iím sure theyíre all on some list somewhere has someoneís favorite Reel Big Fish song. We canít really just put it out without playing ďBeerĒ on it.
You guys are also known for your covers. Is that how you go about picking those songs?
Yeah, usually. When we get together after not hanging out awhile and we start jamming we usually start with cover songs. Everyoneís always learning music and trying to one up each other. So we start with a couple covers to get on track and sometimes they stick. A lot of time itíll just be a sound check and someone will be jamming off a cover and it sticks. Or a lot of time Aaron just says, ďHey weíre going to do this song. Iíve wanted to do it since I was fourteen-years-old and now weíre going to do it.Ē
Well, thatís a question I wanted to ask you. A lot of people get the impression that in the band itís Aaronís band and you guys get frustrated. Is there any truth to that?
Yeah, yeah. But Iím sure itís like that in every band. I mean heís the songwriter and the leader and everything like that it. So it gets frustrating. But thatís how it goes. One of the ways we stayed together for so long is by giving each other space and understanding the roles. As much as I may agree or disagree with Aaron at times I donít want his job. Iíd hate to do what he does. Heís got a lot of pressure on his shoulders. I offer my two cents. Iím not putting my heart out there the way he is. [laughs]
Thatís one thing Iíve always found interesting is Iíve felt like you guys have always had more criticism compared to your contemporaries. People say that you guys write only happy songs. But lyrically itís always been more snarky and self-loathing. Why do you that that is?
Well, I think weíre all very self-deprecating. Itís part of our humor. We like comedy a lot. Itís easy to make fun of yourself. Weíre not the kind of band thatís going to write songs about big world issues and things like that. I mean maybe I would if I had a band. But itís not something that Aaronís interested in. So we figure itís better to be honest and write about what we know and thatís being in a band and the pitfalls of it.
Speaking of a band that youíre in, how has Black Casper
Itís going. Itís slow. Itís hard to stay motivated. Iíve got a kid now. So when Iím home I try to spend a lot of time acting like a muppet. Iím always regarding tracks. But I get sidetracked because someone will go, ďWill you help me with this for a podcast?Ē And I stop thinking about what do I want to do? Someday.
I know one of the criticisms you guys have faced is since 2006 you guys have put out four releases but only twelve original songs. Are there any plans to release some new material?
Yeah, weíll probably get to that this year. We were finalizing our studio. We think itís finally ready to do a real record. Itís one of those things in like 2005 when we got dropped from Jive, thankfully, we were like, ďWell, what have we always wanted to do?Ē So we made a checklist of everything we wanted to do like covers record, greatest hit records, stuff like that, Christmas record, Monkeys [for Nothiní and the Chimps for Free] which was like all the old songs we never had a chance to make sound good. I donít think weíre going to do a Christmas record. Weíve kind of worked our way through the checklist now. But I think weíre finally ready. We had a miserable experience with a couple of our last records that were all originals. I think that made Aaron kind of unsure when it came to putting out new stuff.
After Weíre Not Happy íTil Youíre Not Happy came out a lot of fans kind of got the sense that this is going to be your last record as a band. Was there any of that going around?
I donít think there was any talk of breaking up. Everyone was pretty upset with each other.
Well, sonically that record was a lot different and the lyrics were all about how Aaron hates being in a band.
Yeah, that was a weird time. He was doing Forces of Evil and Scott was doing Littlest Man Band. And everyone was just kind of distracted. Aaron thought that he couldnít bring ska music to the band anymore. He thought we wanted to do something else, something different. There was a lot of miscommunication.
Speaking of bringing ska music to the band, a lot of people have an idea that ska bands that have been around for awhile donít even listen to ska anymore. Is that true?
[laughs] No, itís definitely not true with us. We all love ska music. We listen to reggae and ska almost exclusively when weíre on tour. Itís the one music we all like. Aaron may like glam rock and when heís throwing a party he may put on Lady Gaga. When all six of us our together weíre listening to ska and reggae.
Ska hasnít been on the radio or gotten any mainstream support in a long time. What do you think of the current state of ska?
I think itís always going to be coveted as an underground scene. Thatís why it sustains all itís mini successes in stages and waves or whatever. Weíre glad to be a part of it. Weíre going to wave the ska flag for the rest of our career. Itís the one thing thatís kept us going all these years. The actual ska fans. The radio listeners are a fickle bunch. They maybe buying one record a year. Theyíre not conscious music enthusiasts. Most of our fans are downloaded music constantly whether itís Reel Big Fish or Tuvan throat singing. Theyíre just into music. Maybe itís because a lot of band geeks and play horns in school. So theyíre open to different flavors.
With bands like Streetlight Manifesto, Bomb Bomb the Music Industry! and We Are the Union thereís been a lot of debate. Do you think thereís a fourth wave of ska out there?
Oh yeah. Itís really hard to draw the line. We get lumped in third wave because we were doing what a lot of those bands were by adding punk and suburban white kid vibe to the reggae/ska sound. But honestly most of those bands are ten years older than us at least. Like the The [Mighty Mighty] Bosstones, Fishbone, No Doubt and SublimeÖ I mean we were copying them. Iím kind of friends with those guys, but weíre not peers. I mean theyíre way above us. I mean maybe stylistically we are. But the waves of kept going. Streetlightís got their pirate galley sound. Thatís the best thing about the music. It started as a hybrid music. I think the bands that do something different end up being the most interesting.
You just mentioned Sublime. I know they were a huge influence on you guys. What do you think of Sublime with Rome?
[Laughs] People get really upset that. As far as Iím concerned itís two thirds of Sublime. Thatís a majority. If they want to be Sublime and tour as Sublime thatís fine. Itís not taking anything away from the legacy of Sublime. As genius and wonderful as Bradleyís voice was, heís not an icon to be emulated. If people want to go out and hear the music thatís fine.
I know youíve only been on the road a couple weeks. But whatís been your favorite moment of the tour so far?
Itís mostly been seeing old friends. Thereís people on this tour, especially on the production realm. We made maybe ten years ago as friends. You donít see these people that often and then you go stand around a campfire and boom theyíre all in one place. And now that weíre old guys itís fun to see kids that started off as a runner and now they own a record label. Itís pretty funny.